This morning County Executive Chris Moss gave a presentation to local government officials, business leaders and the media highlighting certain aspects of his proposed 2020 budget. Moss’ presentation kicked off the budget season in Chemung County, an important undertaking that is particularly critical this year as Moss and almost half of the legislators are in their initial year of service and will be going through this process for the first time.

Overview of the Budget Process

Under Chemung County’s charter, the county executive is required to furnish the legislature with a copy of the proposed budget each year by November 10th. The charter requires the legislature to send a report back to the county executive with its findings, questions and/or recommendations no later than November 25th. Throughout that time the legislature typically holds several budget workshops in order to work through the document. With a budget of estimated to be around $200 million dollars this year, the legislature needs as much time as possible to do its due diligence to both county government and the community at large.

Over the past few decades a tradition developed whereby legislators were provided copies of the proposed budget on the Thursday after Election Day, even if that date was well before November 10th, in order to give legislators time to analyze and understand the budget before the workshops begin.

This year, however, legislators will not be given copies of the proposed budget until November 12th (November 10th is a Sunday and November 11th is a holiday), the day the workshops begin.

At last week’s meeting we spent a considerable amount of time discussing the truncated timeline. Even though many legislators, including myself, are disappointed we will not have more time to study the budget before the workshops begin, we are nonetheless committed to working hard with each other and Moss to produce an excellent product for our community.

The video from last Monday’s meeting is embedded below. Discussion of the budget process starts around 20:00:

Timeline

Below is an outline of the important dates in the 2020 budget process. All meetings and workshops will be held on the Hazlett Building’s fifth floor. They are open to the public and will be live-streamed here.

  • Tuesday, November 12th: Budget Workshop immediately following the full Legislature meeting. The Legislature meeting begins at 7:00.
  • Wednesday, November 13th: Budget Workshop at 7:00.
  • Monday, November 18th: Public Hearing on the budget followed immediately by a Budget Workshop. The Public Hearing begins at 7:00.
  • Monday, November 25th: Legislative Standing Committee meetings followed immediately by a Special Budget meeting. The Standing Committee meetings begin at 7:00. The report from the legislature to County Executive Moss is due on this date.
  • December 7th: The date by which the charter requires the legislature to vote on the budget.
  • December 9th: The date by which the charter requires the county executive to veto the budget passed by the legislature.

Moss’ Proposed 2020 Budget

As described above, the legislature is not expected to receive the proposed budget until November 12th. It will be published here upon receipt.

The video below was posted by Moss to his official Facebook page today. It shows slides used by Moss at this morning’s presentation. The video of an interview with Moss on WETM-TV news can be found here.

This afternoon Moss provided the legislature with his budget message, highlighting certain aspects of the budget.

Moss’ presentation and message overall are positive. Even though his proposed budget calls for a 1% property tax increase and other small tax and user rate increases, the impact on taxpayers is exceedingly modest. On the expenditure side, the message states we should only anticipate spending roughly $500,000 from reserves to cover our current expenses along with additional mandates from Albany that kick in next year.

However, the devil is in the details. Moss’ presentation and message were quite vague on several notable topics such as the immediate future of the Chemung County Nursing Facility, continuation of health insurance agreements with the City of Elmira and Schuyler County, and opinions about recommendations made by the City-County Committee. It may be possible to avoid discussing these issues during this year’s budget process, but they arguably impact our decision-making for next year.

Christina Sonsire